After Friday's loss, a reporter asked Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni a poorly worded question: “Mike, can you talk about looking forward to playing against the Clippers?”
“Like I’m looking forward to it?” D’Antoni sarcastically asked through his pained smile. “You mean you want me to talk about not looking forward to it?”
The Clippers are good. They’re real good, actually. And the Lakers, well, are not.
Entering Sunday’s matinee, the Clippers have passed the 50-win mark this season. The Lakers, conversely, have collected over 50 losses this season.
D’Antoni had good reason not to sound excited about Sunday’s game. Last time these teams played, the Lakers suffered their worst loss in franchise history--a 48-point thrashing on the Lakers’ home court. This time around, a loss to the Clippers would guarantee that the Lakers will finish with the worst record in Los Angeles Lakers’ history.
Adding to the long odds, the Lakers only have nine healthy bodies available to play on Sunday. At this point, listing the Lakers’ injuries is redundant but still necessary: Kobe Bryant (knee); Jordan Farmar (groin); Pau Gasol (vertigo); Steve Nash (age, nerve root irritation); Xavier Henry (knee, wrist); and Chris Kaman (leg). Even at this advanced stage in the season, the injuries refuse to relent.
Evidenced by Clippers point guard Chris Paul recently receiving loud jeers at the LA Dodgers’ home opener, the Lakers still run LA when it comes to license plates, clothes and fans. On the court, though, the Clippers have been running Staples Center for a couple seasons now.
The Lakers have lost six of the last seven games between the two city rivals--five of those six losses came with D’Antoni in the captain’s seat. In the last two meetings, the Lakers lost by a combined 84 points.
Still, popularity and interest in the Lakers has not waned. The Lakers were recently found to be most-searched NBA team on Google. Based on the last decade of Google trends, the Lakers were nearly eight times more popular than the Clippers.
“Lakers have been the most dominant thing, what is it, 50 or 60 years,” D’Antoni said at Saturday’s practice. “That doesn’t erase over one season, and I don’t think it will ever erase. That’s just the way it is. The Lakers are always going to be special and hopefully can get back [to the top] sooner rather than later.”
Tip-off for the Lakers at Clippers is 12:30 pm Pacific Time.